Background and aims
The destructive 2010 - 2011 Canterbury earthquakes severely damaged much of Christchurch’s sporting infrastructure. This included the main track and field, hockey and tennis facilities being damaged beyond repair.
Council staff investigated possible replacement locations for these facilities before arriving at their preferred option, a joint sports hub at Nga Puna Wai - 83 hectares of land beside Canterbury Agricultural Park in southwest Christchurch.
Following initial communication about the proposal, there were early supportive signals from the sports and recreation community, while some concerns were raised by those with interest in the Canterbury Agricultural Park which hosts the largest annual Canterbury event, the A&P Show, which attracts around 100,000 visitors over three days each November.
To inform its decision to proceed or not with the proposal, the Christchurch City Council consulted with its citizens for eight weeks from October to December 2014.
The Council received 685 submissions from individuals and organisations on the Nga Puna Wai sports hub proposal and draft changes to the Canterbury Agricultural Park management plan.
GR was tasked with analysing and clearly presenting the information citizens submitted in the 685 submissions, which were diverse in their arguments and their presentation.
The project required both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Synthesis and analysis of every written argument was necessary as well as analysis of four closed ‘yes’ / ‘no’ opinion questions.
There was a requirement to complete all analysis within two weeks of GR receiving the final submissions.
Design and method
Every submission was entered into analysis software, read and categorised into pre-defined topics based on support or not for the proposal and the nature of the submission. Full submissions and parts of submissions were then grouped into specific topics based on the arguments made. Summaries were prepared which presented the most commonly expressed arguments down to those expressed in only a few or one submission.
Frequencies and percentages of the four closed ‘yes’ / ‘no’ questions were also presented.
Christchurch City Council received the analysis report a few days ahead of the deadline. This gave Council Officers time to prepare summary information for Councillors before they hosted oral submissions on the proposal. The clearly laid out, independent, impartial presentation of major and minor arguments meant the Council Hearings Panel responsible for recommending a decision was able to hear oral submissions and then quickly decide a recommendation to proceed with the Nga Puna Wai sports hub. Not only were Councillors able to understand the level of support and disagreement with the proposal they were also able to come to terms with the breadth and depth of the arguments made.
The detailed and balanced presentation of the submitters’ diverse arguments provides the Council with the opportunity to satisfy opposition to the Sports Hub as the project progresses.
Councillors were able to make a well-informed and balanced decision to proceed with the Nga Puna Wai sports hub. A Stage One Masterplan Concept for Nga Puna Wai has since been released.
Christchurch people are now on their way to having sports facilities replaced, which they have been waiting on since the destructive earthquakes. The redeveloped sports hub will return benefits in both efficient infrastructure development and sporting collaboration. Young and older sports people will once again have the opportunity to enjoy the sport they love at quality sporting facilities within reasonable travelling distances.